"It's short and it's lean," explained Rifat Ozbek backstage at his Pollini show. But to say that is to rather simplify things. This is a designer who's never dreamed up an exotic inspiration he didn't like, and his spring collection was full of them, distractingly so at times. The South Seas gave him tribal tattoo prints for strapless dresses, as well as the feathers that accented necklines; Japan, the origami-like discs that edged the hem of a narrow sheath; and Hawaii, the silver-and-gold brocade that he spliced into narrow strips and tiered to the ground. Did Ozbek take a whirlwind trip recently? "No," he said. "It's all just in my head."

All this was accessorized with Philip Treacy's plumed crowns, as well as Bakelite neckpieces and cuffs—more often than not, the effect was overwhelming . Ethnic, as a category, just doesn't have the grip on the fashion community that it did not so long ago. In a season of sixties shifts, though, Ozbek cut one of the best. It came with long sleeves and a stand-away collar that will accentuate delicate collarbones and a slender neck. And no modern-day Gidget will be able to resist an abstract orchid-print sleeveless shift with filigrees of cream embroidery.